Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a law legalizing medical cannabis on February 2, 2022. Known as the “Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act,” the law authorizes the use of medical cannabis to treat certain debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy. , HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, ALS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle cell disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, cachexia or wasting syndrome, chronic pain, severe or intractable nausea, seizures, severe disorders and persistent muscle spasms, among others. The law went into effect immediately after it was signed by the governor, although medical cannabis won’t become available for months.
Medical cannabis products will include cannabis flower, cannabis extracts, edible cannabis products, beverages, topicals, ointments, oils, tinctures and suppositories.
The Medical Cannabis Act contains many employer-friendly provisions. Specifically:
- Employers are not required to permit or accommodate the medical use of medical cannabis, nor to modify any employment or working conditions or any employee who engages in the medical use of cannabis or seeks to engage in the medical use of cannabis;
- Employers are not prohibited from refusing to hire, firing, sanctioning or taking other adverse action against an individual with respect to hiring, firing, term, conditions or privileges of employment as a result of, in whole or in part, such medical use of medical cannabis by an individual, regardless of impairment or non-impairment of the individual resulting from the medical use of medical cannabis;
- Employers are not prohibited from establishing or enforcing a drug testing policy;
- Employers can sanction employees who use medical cannabis in the workplace or who work under the influence of medical cannabis.
- The law does not interfere with, alter, or frustrate any federal requirements or regulations such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s drug and alcohol testing regulations;
- The law does not permit, authorize or establish the right of any individual to sue or take legal action against an employer for refusing to hire, fire, discipline or otherwise taking adverse employment action against an individual with respect to hiring, firing, term, terms, conditions or privileges or employment due to the medical use of cannabis at medical purposes;
- Employers and their workers’ compensation organizations are not required to pay or reimburse an individual for costs associated with the medical use of cannabis;
- The law does not affect, modify or affect the reduction in workers’ compensation premium available to employers who establish a drug-free work program pursuant to Section 71-3-201 et seq. MissCode;
- The law does not affect, modify or otherwise affect the right of an employer to deny or establish legal defenses to the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to an employee on the basis of a positive drug test or a refusal to submit to or cooperate with a drug test, as provided in sections 71-3-7 and 71-3-121 of the Miss. Coded ;
- The law does not authorize any person to act negligently, grossly negligent, recklessly, in violation of any applicable professional or professional standard of care, or to commit an intentional wrong, due, in whole or in part, to the state of that person’s health. consumption of medical cannabis;
- The law prohibits smoking and vaping medical cannabis in a public place or in a motor vehicle;
- It is against the law to drive, navigate, or have actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, train, motorboat, or other conveyance in a manner that would violate state or federal law because , in whole or in part, of the medical use of medical cannabis; and,
- The law does not create a private right of action for an employee against an employer.
Mississippi employers should review the law to determine if revisions to drug and alcohol testing policies or other workplace policies will be needed.
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